Chatbots are all the rage, and not a customer meeting goes by without them coming up. Facebook has managed to revive a lost industry: virtual agent systems (which could be found on some websites 10 years ago).
Although, these days, chatbots are associated with Messenger and can be used for marketing or branding purposes, their main purpose is to prevent customer service agents from having to respond to the same questions on multiple channels. This means saving agents time and reducing costs. Or at least, that’s what they promise.
What are chatbots?
First, they are (ro)bots, meaning computer programs, that respond to human requests. How do they work? They have two main capabilities:
A. Understanding the human language (primarily text),
B. Being able to answer user questions (or the computer model of them, derived from A) with an appropriate response, usually stored in a knowledge base.
Because understanding the customer’s intent sometimes means interacting with him, chatbots can ask questions back, to get more info. A decision-tree algorithm is needed to define the sequence of questions needed to find the right answer. If the answer is not static, but depends on the customer context, integration with the company CRM or transactional system is also important (to access an account balance, for example).
Businesses must be sure that companies offering chatbot services fully understand the requirements before they get involved in an “iceberg” project (where they can only see the tip).
A chatbot (formerly “virtual agent”) for customer service can be used on ANY communication channel (responding to live chats, emails, tweets, instant messages, Instagram comments, you name it) because there is no hardcoded link between the container (the channel) and the content (the answer of the bot).
Dimelo is chatbot friendly
As a digital omnichannel platform, Dimelo supports chatbot systems, and any chatbot can connect to Dimelo to “become” omnichannel (again, not limited to Messenger).
We recently connected two different chatbot systems to Dimelo to showcase a proof-of-concept. Because the goal was to quickly demonstrate how it worked, the chatbot systems were not integrated into Dimelo Digital, but worked alongside Dimelo Digital.
For the demo, both the chatbot system and Dimelo Digital collected messages from Messenger. The chatbot replied to customer messages for as long as it could. Then it sent a message to the customer saying that a real agent would be taking over. This message served as a handoff to Dimelo Digital, which then routed the whole conversation (including the interactions with the chatbot) to an available agent. The agent was able to resolve the customer issue and then return control of the conversation to the chatbot.
It was a perfect demonstration of how a chatbot can be used to identify a customer problem, collect information from a customer (through decision-tree questions) and bring a human agent up to speed.
No integration was needed on the Dimelo side
How did this demo work? On the Dimelo Digital side, it was just a question of configuring business rules (any admin can do it without our help). Dimelo Digital business rules allow businesses to adapt their workflow to their specific needs, whenever they see fit. The rules can be quite simple or more sophisticated.
For the purposes of the chatbot demo, we configured this simple rule:
The bot was configured to use these keywords when it had no clue about how to answer the customer question, and wanted to hand the question off to a live agent.
Then, thanks to our smart folder feature, we were able to display the entire customer conversation with the bot once the bot had finished its job.
With Dimelo Digital, you don’t need an army of consultants and developers. Just plug in your chatbots and they work! All you have to do is decide on your contact strategy and test it live a few days later.
Of course resolving complex interactions on many channels may require a bit more thought and work, but with the Dimelo open platform it’s always easy to interact with third party applications.
If you are a bot vendor or software development agency, get in touch with us. With Dimelo Digital, your bot can become multi-channel in a few days!
Originally published Nov 24, 2016, updated Dec 30, 2022